When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:36-38
Dear Brothers and Sister in Christ;
June was a very busy month. I praise God for your prayers and support as Jackie and I navigated uncertainty. God has been with us. God is with our church and community as uncertainty continues. I thank you for your patience and prayers for our Annual Conference with its uncertainty.
I am a people watcher and I found myself watching people in the hospital, at Annual Conference and even at VBS. I noticed people representing every demographic with one thing in common. The commonality seemed to be in the uncertainty of life at this time.
God has helped me to see the impossibility and injustice of trying to judge a person’s soul, especially after a chance, and usually silent, encounter or media clip. We often question whether those around us share our faith in Jesus. Do they see the way forward for our church and our community as God does by His plan? Matthew 9:36 tells us that Jesus had compassion when He saw the crowds, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus had pity for them. In fact, the Greek word that Matthew uses there to describe Jesus’ disposition toward the crowds indicates that He was deeply moved from the inside. In other words, Jesus’ reaction when He saw the crowds was marked by strong emotion and care, specifically for their general waywardness, like a sheep without a shepherd.
Jesus is looking with compassion on our church and our nation. He has not changed His intention for all people to hear the Gospel and be saved. I think He is still deeply moved and sees our waywardness. If we can begin to look at the task, we have been given to spread the Gospel that people may hear and be saved, more than how we disagree, we can still be a powerful Body for salvation and change.
The sharing of the Gospel can happen by talking over the fence or table in your back yard! We live in a time where more and more people are unchurched and have never heard the Gospel. Every day, we come in contact with people who are living this life, like sheep without a shepherd. People who need to hear the truth and be saved.
What do we do about that? This week, a crowd has gathered every evening at church, and they have heard that, Gospel. I praise God for the work of our Vacation Bible School program! Every Sunday morning, a crowd gathers, both in person and online who hear the Gospel. I thank God for the regular ministry of Word and Sacrament in our congregation, and it’s important to remember that it is happening and we are to be encouraged by that.
We are called to find ways to build and grow the ministry here! As Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful.” There are plenty of souls in your neighborhood, your workplace, your family, your grocery store, that need to hear the Gospel. Pray for God’s leading in how He can use you to labor in this harvest. Pray for one another in that respect also! Yes, we need pastors, but this call of Jesus to pray for more laborers includes more than pastors. We need to embrace the idea that, “All Christians are called to be witnesses of the surpassing compassion Jesus shows them by the forgiveness, life, and salvation He offers.”
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, he expressed joy for their “partnership in the Gospel.” It is a joy for us to have one another as partners in the Gospel, co-laborers in this harvest, and I’m excited to see how God continues to bless the work here and lead us into more harvesting work!